2020 isn’t over yet, but Anthony Smith can already reflect on what’s been an incredibly difficult year for him both personally and professionally.
The coronavirus pandemic threw just about everybody’s life into upheaval and for Smith it cost him the opportunity to headline a UFC event in his home state of Nebraska while delaying a planned fight against Glover Teixeira earlier this year. Before the rescheduled bout took place, Smith faced an even more terrifying situation after forcibly restraining an intruder during a home invasion.
Six weeks later, he lost the fight to Teixeira by fifth-round TKO.
Smith returned to action in August in hopes of getting back in the win column. But instead, he lost a lopsided decision to Aleksandar Rakic. Afterward, he publicly contemplated a move back to middleweight after suffering back-to-back defeats at 205 pounds.
Now as he prepares for a fight against Devin Clark at UFC Vegas 15, Smith knows he could write off this year as a series of really unfortunate events, but he’ll never take the easy way out when it comes to his shortcomings.
“It’s been really tough,” Smith told MMA Fighting during the UFC Vegas 15 media day. “I’m never going to make an excuse even when it’s handed to me. It hasn’t been the easiest year I’ve ever been through that’s for sure. Some of it’s my fault. Maybe if I was more of a man, I’d have the balls to maybe pull out of some of those fights and know that maybe know that some of those weren’t the best situations that I should have been fighting in but I just don’t have it in me.
“I don’t have it in me to say that I can’t do something. Even going into the Glover [Teixeira] fight right after the home invasion during the pandemic thing, family’s in shambles, whatever, maybe it would have been the more manly thing to do to just say, ‘Hey listen I’m having some serious issues at home, I can’t do this right now.’ But that means I would actually have to say it out loud that I can’t do it, and I’m not built like that. My brain is just not wired like that.”
In order to get back on track to close out the year on a win, Smith made some necessary changes to his training camp including a physical regimen that better prepared him to compete at light heavyweight.
He also forced himself to limit any potential distractions that could pull his attention away from the fight.
“I did a lot of things this training camp differently,” Smith said. “And maybe the average person, it wouldn’t seem that much different but you guys didn’t see me working the analyst desk this entire training camp. If you’re a listener to my radio show, I only did one hour, once a week on my radio show. I cut way back on my show. I didn’t do any episodes of my podcast with Laura Sanko.
“I just took a lot of things off my plate and fortunately, I have a lot of people that support me that helped picked up the slack on that and picked up the pieces I’m not doing.”
Once again, Smith refuses to place blame on any of those activities as if they somehow caused him to lose a fight but changes were necessary as he sought a better result this weekend.
“You get so much going on in your head,” Smith explained. “I’m married, I’m a father of three, you’ve got all the duties and the responsibilities that come along with that on top of training camp and again all those other things I had on my plate, analyst stuff, podcast, my radio show.
“I just needed to manage that and organize it better and I think I did a really good job of that this training camp.”
Despite all of the issues he’s faced this year, Smith still hopes to close out 2020 with a win before anxiously awaiting the opportunity to turn the page on Dec. 31.
“It’s been tough but unfortunately this year’s been tough for the entire world,” Smith said. “My struggles are very First World problems. My family’s safe, my bills are paid, everybody’s taken care of, I don’t worry about a whole lot of things in life so I don’t want to pretend my year’s been any worse than the rest of the world and specifically the country. It’s been really tough for everyone.
“I think everyone and myself hope 2021 brings some better stuff that’s for sure.”